You don't have to be a sports enthusiast or even a tennis fan to know about Wimbledon's triumphant return. What an event it was! After the year we just had, we needed that level of excitement and the return to some semblance of normalcy to kick off our post-pandemic life, didn't we?
By the way, last year was the first time since 1945 that The Championship did not go on as scheduled. That just goes to show that this thing is as devastating as a world war.
And, despite the Duchess of Cambridge having been exposed to the virus, she was on hand to present Ash Barty her trophy. That was certainly a highlight. And a spoiler.
This year's tournament was full of highs and lows, each made more significant - more poignant because of last year's cancelled event.
No doubt you have your favourite and least favourite moments but we'd like to share what we thought were some of the most extraordinary moments of this two-week event.
As always, you're welcome to share your thoughts - of the Championship and this article in the comments section.
The Less Sunny Wimbledon News
As alluded to before, there was much to celebrate at Wimbledon this year. But there were also aspects that aren't quite so wonderful.
Normally, we'd rush to gush over the highlights and make the less scintillating moments to trail the glory; almost as a footnote you might feel inclined to overlook. This time, we thought we'd get the not-great parts out of the way first so we can end this review on a high note.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Usually, when faced with such a choice, you choose to get the bad news out of the way, right? In that spirit, let's proceed.
Two years ago, when Ms Gauff burst onto the tennis scene in her inimitable way - by trouncing all and sundry, she was just 15 years old. Her exposure was limited to just 10 (professional) tennis tournaments because of the rules designed to protect minors.
Now 17, Ms Gauff is permitted to play up to 16 pro tournaments and benefits from the maximum number of wildcards. She took full advantage of that expanded range of possibilities by playing a number of tournaments this year:
- the Abu Dhabi Open
- the Australian Open
- the Dubai Championships
- the Miami Open
- the Italian Open
- the French Open
and, of course, Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Angelique Kerber. That loss saw Ms Gauff eliminated, which worked out fairly well for her because she is now headed to Tokyo to play in the Olympics.
Tennis enthusiasts can't help but wonder if those restrictive rules forced Coco into being less prepared - mentally and physically, for the rigours of tournament play but, at the same time, those sceptics concede that tennis can be brutal on a body.
We only need to listen in on the speculation over whose last Wimbledon this one was...
There's no disputing that the Williams sisters have redefined tennis in the Open Era. They are both phenomenal tennis players, both record smashers and record holders, and both exceedingly vocal about fair treatment towards women in tennis.
They also enjoy an on-court rivalry, wherein younger sister Serena has consistently maintained the upper hand.
Serena also tops her sibling in the number of injuries sustained while playing tennis; this year was no different. Serena hurt her leg during her first-round match playing Aliaksandra Sasnovich. At first, she tried to play off her injury - presumably caused by a seemingly small slip on the grass but, as the contest went on, she was visibly struggling.
In a dramatic moment during the seventh game, she shrieked and fell to her knees. The severity of the injury forced Ms Williams to retire from the tournament. Can you imagine her frustration? She was just one Grand Slam title away from tying with legendary Australian tennis player Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam titles.
You can read all about Serena and other Women's Wimbledon winners in our companion article.
From the moment he stepped into the tennis spotlight 28 years ago, Roger Federer has commanded legions of devotees, not just because he's an all-time tennis great - possibly the GOAT (greatest of all time) but because he's such a gentleman.
In fact, so gracious is he that he's won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award no fewer than 13 times and the Laureus World Sports Award five times. That's no mean feat, considering that only 11 such awards have been bestowed since its inception.
So why is there so much talk suggesting he should retire from tennis?
Admittedly, 2021 was not Mr Federer's best Wimbledon showing. As the oldest quarterfinalist to take that position and bolstered by the long list of past wins, it was downright shocking for him to suffer an upset by 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz. It was the first time in nearly 20 years that he lost in straight sets at Wimbledon.
Almost before the loss, the buzzards were circling - pardon the visual.
People started wondering if this would be his last Wimbledon, if he was going to retire, if he's even well enough to play anymore...
As mentioned before, playing tennis is hard on a body. Serena Williams (and her sister Venus) and Roger Federer are living proof of that. If we reach back just 20 years, we find a path littered with names of tennis greats - Anna Kournikova, Li Na, David Nalbandian... forced into retirement because of recurring injuries.
The critics and pundits dissecting Wimbledon players for imminent signs of decrepitude are hardly the Wimbledon prizes these illustrious players deserve.
The Best of Wimbledon
With that out of our system, let's move on to the glorious moments that made this year's Wimbledon Championship one of the best in history.
Sebastian Korda enjoyed dizzying heights and profound lows. Riding high from his European showing in May - he is the first American to win on European clay since 2010, this year was his first appearance at Wimbledon. He did not disappoint, reaching the fourth round; a career-first for him. There'll be plenty to see of Mr Korda in the future, we suspect.
Emma Raducanu must have some sort of luck! She managed to eke her way into Wimbledon on a wildcard, after which she promptly advanced to the fourth round. She is the youngest British woman in the Open era to reach that milestone. And to think she was ranked #338 at the start of Wimbledon!
Nick Kyrgios, the bad boy of tennis, has been plagued with tournament withdrawals this year. Although he did play in the Australian Open (he lost in the third round) and he played Wimbledon, he lasted two straight sets before retiring, citing an abdominal injury.
For the past eight years, Barbora Krejcikova has been quietly making her way around the world, playing in one tournament after the next. This year, she hit her stride and doubles seems to be her forte - not to say that she can't play singles at all. Quite the contrary! She'd been taking down opponents left and right until she played Ashleigh Barty, one of this year's Singles' winners, who promptly put an end to Ms Krejcikova's winning streak.
Upon hearing unsolicited advice shouted from the stands, Viktor Troicki mimed handing his racket to the fan, ostensibly inviting that adviser to play in his stead. His devilish grin made the joke all the more savoury. On a down note, he announced his retirement from professional tennis after this Championship.
You might wonder why we've not listed the winners in each category; you can catch all of those names and bios in our analysis of Wimbledon 2021's summary of events.
Wimbledon Odds and Ends
Who gets to advertise at Wimbledon? You would think that cramming adverts everywhere around the 14-acre AELTC complex would generate insane amounts of revenue for the club. Luckily for those of us who are all about tennis, advertising is limited to just a handful of companies; this year, Rolex got to join that elite group.
Note that Slazenger, the company that supplies all of the Championship's tennis balls, has been Wimbledon's longstanding advertiser; since 1902, to be exact.
With the UK so recently coming out from under lockdown and the COVID Delta variant threatening, some may debate the wisdom of allowing throngs of spectators into Centre Court's stands. Whichever side of that line you are, you can't argue that spectators are not an integral part of the Wimbledon experience.
This year's most rousing ovation was not for any tennis player or their antics - as has been the case in Championships past, but for Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists who developed the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine. The cheering went on for more than a minute, after which spectators resumed their seats and decorum.
Andy Murray also enjoyed roars of approval for his first Wimbledon since 2017. Now, with a new hip and the series of injuries that kept him off the court for so long behind him, he wowed the crowds again. Unfortunately, he lost in the third round - far too early for his fans' (and no doubt his) liking. Whether he'll be back next year is an open question.
Strawberries and cream are a Wimbledon staple. Roughly 2 million strawberries and around 7,000 litres of cream are consumed during the event's fortnight.
Wimbledon is still the largest catered sports event in all of Europe. This year, the staff served nearly a quarter-million meals. And if you thought the hospitality was generous, you should know about the generous proportions of the viewing screen outside of Centre Court. It measures a full 40 square metres.
The stringing team used more than 40 miles of string this year to restring players' tennis rackets.
The pineapple atop the Wimbledon trophy remains unexplained.
It's your turn to chime in: what's your take on this year's Wimbledon Men's winners?
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